Tag Archives: how to fish in Arizona

Homes for fish: habitat improvement project underway at Roosevelt Lake

In first phase of long-term project on Tonto National Forest lakes, AZGFD biologists sink fish habitat structures

Habitat is dropped into Roosevelt Lake Thursday, April 20.

PHOENIX – They are manmade homes for fish, some made of concrete, others of PVC, and like building a neighborhood, provide the architecture for sustainable life.

The first step in placing fish habitat into the  central Arizona reservoirs took place on Thursday, April 20 at Roosevelt Lake with Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists dropping Fishiding HighRise structures made of environmentally-safe PVC  to the bottom of Roosevelt Lake. These recycled items, 8 feet tall and excellent habitat for crappie, became the first fish homes. AZGFD plans to expand them into fish cities.

For anglers, this Tonto National Forest Lakes Habitat Improvement Project will result in better fishing for generations to come in the region’s most popular fishing lakes.

Ongoing improvements to Rosy

Also in April, Roosevelt Lake was stocked with 12,000 crappie fingerlings, as well as 25,000 4-inch Florida-strain largemouth bass for the third consecutive year. Roosevelt Lake also is above 70-percent full for the first time since October of 2011. The higher water level has flooded shoreline brush that provides more cover and habitat for spawning fish. The fish habitat improvement project includes placing multiple types of fish habitat around the lake at varied depths to ensure there is plenty of fish habitat available for when water level fluctuates.

Similar work is planned for other lakes along the Salt River chain and Bartlett Lake. The next planned step involves AZGFD biologists using a 36-foot pontoon boat to transport and lower heavier concrete fish habitat structures — critical to anglers’ fishing opportunities — into Roosevelt Lake.

Working OT for better fishing

This fish habitat project is a cooperative effort with numerous anglers, as well as volunteers from organizations such as Gila Basin Angler Roundtable and Midweek Bass Anglers. Supporting agency partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program, Tonto National Forest, and the National Fish Habitat Partnership-Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership. Volunteers have been helping build concrete fish balls and Georgia cubes for two years and have donated hundreds of hours to the project.

Fishiding HighRise structures are made of environmentally-safe PVC and are excellent habitat for crappie.

Natural and artificial habitat are critical for fish spawning, recruitment, and growth. The reservoirs of central Arizona lack sufficient hiding and ambush cover and habitat for growth and survival of young fish. The artificial structures provide a surface for microscopic animals to grow, which attracts bait fish and in turn the predatory fish for anglers to target.

Background: a return to glory

Fishing is one of Arizona’s most popular outdoor activities. Providing good places for anglers to fish is one of AZGFD’s primary goals. Five of the biggest and most popular lakes to fish are located in central Arizona and are managed by Salt River Project for the valley’s water supply: Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, and Bartlett Lake.

In 2014 the Department embarked on a program to improve fisheries habitat in the reservoirs of central Arizona and restore the fisheries to their former glory days. All five of these lakes are more than 70 years old, and Roosevelt Lake is more than 100 years old. Over time, reservoirs lose quality fish habitat through decomposition of the natural vegetation that was flooded, particularly where water levels fluctuate wildly, such as at Roosevelt.

Similarly, one of the largest and most successful fish habitat projects in the nation, the Lake Havasu Fishery Improvement Program, has been ongoing since 1993 and is credited with improving sport fish habitat in this Colorado River reservoir.

The Tonto National Forest is the land management agency for five of the biggest and busiest fishing lakes in Arizona. In 2013, the economic value to the state of Arizona associated with these five lakes was estimated to be more than $318 million.

See more about fishing in Arizona.

Arizona Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Crappie are spawning and we’re getting some great reports from Roosevelt and San Carlos lakes. Bartlett Lake and Lake Pleasant should be good targets, too.

At Lake Powell, our state’s Yankee Stadium of fishing holes, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and crappie are on beds and reports are that anglers are having field days on striped bass with anchovies.

From trout stockings in the high pines to bass and crappie the lower deserts, fishing is gettin’ gangbusters. Round up the family and friends, stuff camping and fishing tackle in the trunk or cab, grab a fishing license, fill up the tank and take off on a spring fishing adventure.

Some fish bits:

  • Now’s the time to fish in northern Arizona.
  • Bass and sunfish have been stocked in Community fishing waters.
  • Roosevelt Lake is above 70-percent full for the first time in five years. We’ve stocked crappie and more Florida-strain bass into the lake this month, and began a Salt River-chain lakes habitat improvement project Thursday by dropping fish-hiding structures to the bottom of Roosevelt Lake.
  • At Bear Canyon Lake along the Mogollon Rim, Forest Road 300 opened today.  Fish were stocked this week in anticipation of the opening of the road. All roads to White Mountains/Mogollon Rim lakes are now open.
  • Cases of “swimmer’s itch” have been reported from Canyon Lake. See some tips from the Tonto National Forest on some prevention steps.

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@azgfd.gov —
one will be selected as Catch of the Week

Rett of Cambodia with some nice stripers caught in 25 feet of water in northern coves at Lake Pleasant on top water lures and live shad.

See all the Angler Reports

Nets and waders: Working for You

Some of our fisheries biologists began a Salt River chain-lakes habitat improvement project Thursday by dropping Fishiding structures made of recycled garage door panels  to the bottom of Roosevelt Lake.

Habitat is important for fish spawning, recruitment, growth, health and populations. These artificial structures attract bait fish, which then attract predatory fish for sport-fishing anglers to target.

AZGFD also plans to use a 36-foot pontoon boat to sink fish habitat — critical to anglers’ fishing opportunities — into Roosevelt Lake. Similar work is planned for other lakes along the Salt River chain.

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

Saturday — Fishing for Sustainability-Family and Community Fishing Event, 8 a.m – noon, Silverbell Lake at Christopher Columbus Park (3600 N. Silverbell Rd., Tucson).

See more details and the full schedule

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

The transition to spring fishing conditions is finally setting in — time to get out and fish!

Let’s get to some highlights:

  • It’s crappie time! The spawn at San Carlos has been underway for the past few weeks and there have been excellent reports.  The crappie spawn is just getting underway at Roosevelt Lake. Male crappie are in shallow areas of the lake; some females are moving onto spawning flats.
  • Striped bass catch rates are picking up at Lake Pleasant. Check out a report from guest contributor Barry Worman of the Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page.
  • The Arizona Department of Transportation planned to open State Highways 261 and 273 on Thursday, April 13. ADOT was working to clear the last of the snow drifts off of the highways before opening. The roads were closed during winter months for public safety. Opening the state highways allows access to Big Lake and Crescent and Sunrise lakes. See an Arizona Traveler Information map that shows only minimal delays on these roads.
  • The 300 road is open to the Woods Canyon Lake turnoff.  Store and boat rentals are open. Campgrounds won’t open until May.  A recent survey found lots of rainbow and tiger trout winter carry-overs averaging around 11-12 inches , and rainbow trout are being stocked this week.  We saw full stringers this week before it was even stocked —  fish are hungry and biting hooks.

    A 4- or 5-pound largemouth bass caught recently from Alvord Lake in Phoenix on a No. 10 silver flutter spoon.
  • We stocked bass (yes — bass!) and crappie this week into “core” Community waters. See the schedule.
  • Recently-stocked brown trout have been hitting at Lynx Lake. One angler hooked a bunch of ’em on 1.5 inch-crappie tubes on the southern shore of the lake.
  • A monster 5-pound redear sunfish was caught from Lake Havasu — see the Angler Reports.

Grab a license online 24/7, and go — your purchase helps conserve wildlife for future generations.

Stocking report

Channel catfish

Wednesday, April 5 — Chaparral Lake, Riverview Lake, Red Mountain Lake, Veterans Oasis Lake, Copper Sky Lake, Silverbell Lake, Kennedy Lake, Sahuarita Lake, Lakeside Lake, Surprise Lake,  Rio Vista Pond, Pioneer Lake, Steele Indian School Pond, Encanto Lake, Desert West Lake, Alvord Lake, Papago Ponds, Evelyn Hallman Pond, Desert Breeze Lake, Tempe Kiwanis Lake,  Bonsall Park.

Rainbow trout

Friday, April 7 — Tonto Creek,  East Verde River, Canyon Creek.

Thursday, April 6 — Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek, Russell Tank, Lower Lake Mary, Dogtown Reservoir.

Tuesday, April 4 — Becker Lake, Scott Reservoir, Rainbow Lake,  Fool Hollow Lake, Goldwater Lake, Rose Canyon Lake, Dogtown Reservoir.

Brook trout

Tuesday, April 4 — Lynx Lake, Fain Lake.

See the full schedule.

 

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@azgfd.gov —
one will be selected as Catch of the Week

Dave P. caught this Big Fish of the Year, catch-and-release smallmouth bass from Roosevelt Lake on March 21 that measured  23 1/2 inches and weighed 5.96 pounds. Caught on a Kalin’s triple threat grub (John Deere color).

See all the Angler Reports

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

Saturday, April 22 — Fishing for Sustainability-Family and Community Fishing Event, 8 a.m – noon, Silverbell Lake at Christopher Columbus Park (3600 N. Silverbell Rd., Tucson).

See more details and the full schedule

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Free “hook to plate” clinic April 22 at Silverbell Lake in Tucson

TUCSON – Catching, cleaning and cooking fish – it’s a sustainable and healthy process of getting food. The Arizona Game and Fish Department and Seis Kitchen and Catering want to show you how to do it all at a “Fishing for Sustainability” event during the morning of Saturday, April 22 at Silverbell Lake in Tucson.

This “hook to plate” event for beginning and experienced anglers is the first event of its kind offered by AZGFD.

Catching: the start of the adventure

 

For those who register during event hours of 8 a.m. to noon, no license is required and bait and loaner rods are available. Staff from the AZGFD’s Tucson office and Sport Fishing Education Program, as well as certified angler volunteer instructors, will give angling tips. Channel catfish will have been stocked. Ever felt the bouncing tugs of a fish at the end of your line?

Cleaning: a life-sustaining skill

An AZGFD expert will be on-hand for filleting demonstrations, as well as showing how to properly handle, euthanize and clean fish. Learn a unique and valuable life skill.

Cooking: learn from the pros

Seis Kitchen and Catering will be hosting two fish cooking demonstrations. Cooking demos will occur at 9:30 a.m. and again at 11 a.m. Come learn how to take your catch from the “hook to plate” for a delicious, locally-sourced food source that is sustainably-produced.

Silverbell Lake is located in Christopher Columbus Park on 4600 North Silverbell Road.  The event will be staged from Ramada 4.

For more information, contact the AZGFD Sport Fishing Education Program at 623-236-7240.

Also, see a list of upcoming fishing clinics statewide, or visit azgfd.gov.

Glendale fishing clinic to give away up to 1,000 youth licenses

Bonsall Park

PHOENIX – As many as one thousand youth hunt/fish licenses will be given away free of charge at the third annual “Hook a Kid on Fishing” event on Saturday, April 8 at Bonsall  Park in Glendale. The annual event was organized by Glendale City Councilmember Jamie Aldama in cooperation with the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, which will be sponsoring the giveaway of youth licenses.

The giveaway coincides with a free fishing clinic  — loaner rods will be available, no license is required, and bait will be provided. Licenses will go to the first 1,000 youth ages 10-17 during the event at Bonsall Park. Register on-site during clinic hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We’re excited to have an opportunity to give kids a window into the world of fishing,” Arizona Game and Fish Department Community Fishing Program Manager Scott Gurtin said. “This will be a great community event and the fishing should be excellent.”

Bluegill and catfish will be stocked (more than four times the regular amount of catfish), and the free licenses will be valid for 365 days of fishing and hunting. Grab your kids and come on out.

Bonsall Park is located at 5840 W. Bethany Home Rd. (59th Ave. and Bethany Home Rd.) in Glendale.

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

 

Send your fishing reports to BFishing@azgfd.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week

Apache Lake

Gunny C.: Finally a quality bass. 8-pounds, 2 ounces on March 15. Thanks to Johnny Johnson for the great informational videos!

Lake Mead

Jack caught this monster 48-pound, 13-ounce striper in about 10 feet of water in the flats across from South Cove. He also caught another lunker on the fishing trip.

Pena Blanca Lake

 

Andrew: Fished the shore this last Sunday evening. Didn’t get any bites using small jigs. Caught sunfish and bass on nightcrawlers during sundown.

 Roosevelt Lake

Jeff P.: Working the shallows between Grapevine and Schoolhouse, put 12 in the boat (catch and release), mostly on the smaller side, but also picked up a couple of good ones including the 19 incher in the photo. All were caught on clear/red hula grubs, Texas-rigged.

Desert Breeze Park (Chandler)

Anonymous: Viviana and her dad caught these two catfish late afternoon on Monday. Using chicken liver and are so excited for some spring fishing!

Fossil Creek

Max W.: Just wanted to let you know, chub fishing at Fossil Creek was on fire over the weekend. 5-6 fish an hour in the morning, all on dark simi-seals and wooly buggers. Things slowed down around 9:30 or so.

Dead Horse lagoons

Debbie A.: Taylor Allen (of Flagstaff) caught this largemouth bass on a drop shot. Sunday, March 19.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers (click on the water for directions):

Tempe Kiwanis Lake

Mike M.: Cheyanne Montes caught this on a first-cast strike at Kiwanis  on Saturday March 11.   Set the hook just like Dad taught her … and go Irish!

Rainbow Lake

Blake Frost with a northern pike at Rainbow Lake — her second fish ever.

Lake Havasu

Drex A.: Caught this one on a drop shot in Lake Havasu.

Parker Canyon Lake

Jim P.: Went fishing yesterday, March 9, at Parker Canyon Lake. I was surprised to find a very heavy algae bloom in the lake and it was a brownish color. I have never seen algae in that lake before.  I could see only a few inches into the water. Fishing for trout was very poor.

Patagonia Lake

Anonymous: March 9, bass 15 1/2-inch bass trolling using plastic bait.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Winter fishing is OVER. Highs for the next week are predicted to be in the mid-to-high 80s in desert regions and 60s in the high country.

Spring perfume is in the air, we have a full moon this weekend, and trout stockings are kicking off again in the Flagstaff/Williams region. (Friday update: from Thursday to Friday we stocked a total of about 12,000 rainbow trout into Lower Lake Mary. )

Anglers braved a tough winter of erratic weather and now it’s time to hook, and  maybe cook, some fish. Warm water temps plus a full moon Sunday means there could be some great bass fishing in shallow water this weekend, and next week, and maybe through May. With all the rains and increased ground cover, those shallow spots will likely be in new areas. Explore away.

Be sure to send your reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

Poppies along Bush Highway north of Saguaro Lake

Some highlights:

  • Lake Powell. Walleye and largemouth bass fishing is raring to go at Lake Powell. Water temperatures will reach the mid-50s by the weekend. Largemouth bass are the first to respond to this warming, followed by smallmouth bass. Wayne Gustaveson’s report will give you all the Powell tips you need.
  • Bartlett Lake. The lake is 99-percent full and water temperatures on Wednesday were 54 degrees and warming to 58.
  • Flagstaff/Williams area. Fish stockings have resumed, including at Lower Lake Mary, which is around half-full for the first time since 2010. Read more.
  • First major wave of spring bass spawning. It’s the first full moon in March — more bass will be moving in  shallow to spawn. It’s already been a banner spring bass fishing season. See some springtime bassin’ tips. 
  • Saguaro Lake levels are down. The lake levels dropped 11% in 3 days. The levels were decreased to accommodate maintenance at Mormon Flat Dam. The dam outage is expected to last until around mid-March. But some bass already are spawning.
  • Tonto National Forest campground openings. As water has receded, many campgrounds have reopened. Keep up with the latest updates.
  • Community fishing stocking transition. The final scheduled trout stockings of the winter season took place this week.  Catfish will return to Community waters  the week of March 20. See the latest Community news.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Monday, March 6 — Frances Short Pond, Goldwater Lake, Oak Creek, Dead Horse lagoons; Tuesday, Feb. 28 — Patagonia Lake, Pena Blanca Lake; Monday, Feb. 27 — Verde River (middle), Salt River. See the full schedule.

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

Anglers wetting lines at the last clinic, the Just For Kids Fishing Festival at Kiwanis Lake on Feb. 25.

Saturday, March 11 — Family and Community Fishing Event, 8 a.m. – noon, Roper Lake State Park (101 E. Roper Lake Rd., Safford). For more information please contact Kelly Wright at Roper Lake State Park at (928) 428-6760 or the Sport Fishing Education Program at (623) 236-7240.

See the full schedule

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Arizona Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Sounds like fishing action in desert regions is picking up thanks to stable weather — especially for largemouth bass. We have a full moon to possibly trigger some early spawning activity at western lakes such as Alamo, Havasu and Martinez.

Already there have been reports of small populations of bass moving in shallow at lakes such as Canyon and Saguaro (most bass remain deep and water temperatures at most desert lakes are in the low-to-mid 50s). Crankbaits and spinnerbaits have been the most widely reported successful baits.

Moderate rain is predicted to fall in central Arizona on Sunday, so plan accordingly.

A couple of trout stockings remain for Community waters before catfish return in late March.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Thursday, Jan. 26 and Friday, Jan. 27 — Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, all “core” waters except Rio Vista, as well as Patterson Ponds, and Green Valley lakes. Tuesday, Jan. 24 — Pena Blanca Lake, Council Ave. Pond, Yuma West Wetlands Pond. Monday, Jan. 23 — Lower Salt River, Verde River (middle).

Next week: We’re scheduled to stock the Verde River (Clarkdale to Camp Verde), the lower Salt River, Parker Canyon Lake, Patagonia Lake, Hidden Shores (Imperial Dam), Parker (La Paz), Somerton (Council Park) Pond, Yuma West Wetlands.

Full  schedules

Catch of the Week

(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week)

saguaro-bass

Ray B. caught this largemouth bass from Saguaro Lake in 3-5 feet of water on a brown-and-yellow crankbait around noon from the reeds. He said it weighed 5.51 pounds.

“BIG THANKS to the recent fishing articles in Arizona Wildlife Views Magazine,” He said. “Great tips lead to an amazing catch. AZ winter bass fishing at its best.”

See all the Angler Reports

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

Saturday, Feb. 11 — Take a Kid Fishing Day, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., La Paz County Park (7350 Riverside Dr., Parker).

See the full schedule

Nets and waders: Working for you

This new section will periodically show what our fisheries biologists have been doing in the field to improve fishing in Arizona.

dsc_8246
Aquatic reef ball habitat that was being built Friday, Feb. 3 outside the AZGFD Mesa office. GEORGE ANDREJKO/AZGFD

These habitat reef balls are planned to be deployed into Roosevelt Lake this spring. Habitat serves as excellent structure/shelter for sport-fish species such as bass, crappie and bluegill for anglers to target.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

 

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers (click on the water for directions):

Verde River (at Camp Verde)

verdebass

Troy G.: Winter bass fishing is good in the Verde River in Camp Verde this week. Starting to clear up a bit since all the rain a while back. Got this one on a chartreuse/blue crankbait.

Saguaro Lake

saguaro-bass

Ray B.:  Caught this one on a 3-5 foot brown and yellow crankbait around noon from the reeds at Saguaro Lake. She was 5.51 pounds.

Water conditions couldn’t be better. BIG THANKS to the recent fishing articles in Arizona Wildlife Views Magazine. Great tips lead to an amazing catch. AZ winter bass fishing at it’s best.

Lower Salt River (below Saguaro)

lower-salt-river-2-3-17

Justin M. fly-fished the Lower Salt River on Friday. The river is scheduled to be stocked with trout next week and was flowing at 13 cfs below Saguaro Mountain Dam on Tuesday.

Try the Phon D. Sutton, Water Users or Granite Reef Recreation Areas.

Justin M. said, “I have been fishing the Salt River the past six weeks or so on every Friday. Most of the time I’m fishing at Water Users and have had success every outing. All I do is fly fish anymore and have caught quite a few bass and lots of bluegill

For the bass, my most productive flies have been AZ simi seal leeches in canadian black, halloween, blood red and olive. Another productive fly pattern has been cheechs low fat minnow. Its a bluegill imitation.

For the bluegill, on warmer days I’ve done fairly well getting them on the surface with a beetle imitation. Other productive flies i’ve had great success with is a hares ear soft hackle pattern I tied up. The only time I tried for trout was a couple of weeks ago when it was raining and cooler.

Fished below the bridge using the hares ear soft hackle and caught and released 14 trout in a matter of a couple of hours. I have talked to other anglers on my outings and have been told that they were having luck with nightcrawlers, small spinners, and one fella was doing well for bass on dropshot with a green Roboworm.”

Canyon Lake

canyon_bass_2_4_17

Brian S.: Temps are warming up and in a few areas the bass are moving up, however most are still caught deep. This beauty was caught in 35 feet with a hinged spinnerbait with a zoom fluke trailer.

Utilizing sonar electronics is critical for deep water fishing. Find them, mark a way point and slowly work your baits into the strike zone. Pay attention to your sonar through the entire process because once you entice one to bite, have your angling buddy be ready with a flutter spoon or Kastmaster as you may find you just ignited a school of them. Hopefully your angling buddy is ready with the net as well.

 

Gila River

ramoncatfish

Ramon: This was on a Saturday night, Feb. 4, around 9 p.m. at Gila River on right side of bridge! Used chicken lever and caught a channel catfish at 18 pounds and 31 inches!

See more about fishing in Arizona